"Happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have and offer thanks for all the troubles we don't have." -unknown
This is my week to post an update to The Gratitude Diaries virtual book club, if you are following along. Are you? Have you finished reading it? I have a confession to make. I have my hands in so many things right now, I am going chapter by chapter in a very slow fashion. The one constant in my Gratitude Diaries journey is keeping my gratitude journal. Every night, like clock work, give or take a day here and there, I am listing 3-5 things I am thankful for. I look so forward to looking back over the day to capture those moments, too. It has become a little treasure for me personally. What about you? I have also managed to show more appreciation for people in my life, my immediate family as well as perfect strangers and everyone in between. I am much more aware of wanting to do that even and how important it is to express the appreciation and gratitude. But before I Dive into this week's chapter, "the No-Complainig zone," I need to go off track for a moment.
This past weekend I was developing a recipe I imagined for the blog. The vision was in my head, I knew how I wanted it executed and visualized how yummy it was going to be and how beautiful, too. Well guess what? It was beautiful and it was a total fail. So I have no new recipe to post for this blog. It's not a total loss because twice last week I had Roasted radishes cross my path. Roasted radishes? I know, right? But when the universe sent them my way not once, but twice, I thought I'd better give them a try. And you'll never believe it but they are really yummy and quite pretty. So this week's virtual Book club entry is coming with a bonus mini recipe for roasted radishes. Here's the quick version: get a couple bunches of radishes, stem them and remove the little root end (wash them of course). Halve them from stem to root. Pat dry. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F. Toss the halved radishes in a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil , sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and roast on a baking sheet for 15-2o minutes until just tender. I used two bunches and it served three of us, so use that as rough guide for servings. My daughter, my husband and I all really enjoyed them. I will definitely make them again. See? so pretty!
Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled blog post! Up until now in the Gratitude Diaries, the gratitude and appreciation topics have rung a clear, true bell for me. I have understood and recognized the merits of practicing them, with actually committing to the practice being my short-coming, off and on. But the no-complain zone, now that struck a different chord. I make an effort to generally be positive in work and "public" settings , but I have been known to whine and complain more than even I'd like to admit to on the home front. The thing is, it is really quite commonplace to complain and use it as a bonding practice (talk about the weather lately... or anything else we have no control over changing?I thought so). As Kaplan says in the book, "the get it off your chest approach has many adherents, but what you say has an effect on how you feel. Announce too often that you are miserable and you begin to feel that you really are." Why would we do that to ourselves?!!
My goal in life is to feel good, so that means some behavior modification is in order. As Kaplan goes on to say " my attitude of gratitude has to hold in all condition. " Yup, that's my goal- rose colored glasses and a positive attitude. I know what you are saying, but what if what I am talking about is true? Well as I heard Esther Hicks say in an episode of Abraham-Hicks , that's a poor excuse! Speak it as you'd wish it to be, I will tell myself! So the call is to find the good in everything, the silver lining in the cloud, the lemonade from the lemons. It's really just a shift in perspective. I can do this! And the incentive is that this gratitude is going to result in higher sense of well-being.
Dr Seligman a renowned professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania was quoted in the book as saying ,"of all the positive strengths we've looked at, people who are highest in gratitude are also highest in well-being." That's a worthy goal in my book. He went on to say how gratitude journals, letter and visits all help reinforce the benefits. I have written such letter from everyone to an elementary school teacher of mine, to an author whose work really touched me and several others. I can't report how my letters made them feel, but I can say the gratitude and connection to something else that I felt was definitely enhanced. Perhaps it is time to look for more letters to send and more gratitude to express and zero complaining.
Several years ago at a church I was attending at the time, the pastor talked about not complaining. Her suggestion was to wear a bracelet , like those silicone bracelets that were so popular several years back, and when you catch yourself complaining, you move the bracelet from one wrist to the other back and forth it goes as long as you are complaining. In fact I believe it came from the book A complaint Free World by Rev. Will Bowen. The bracelets are still available here, if that's something you may be interested in. Another time I heard the idea of wearing a rubber band around the wrist and snapping it on yourself every time you complained. It could be helpful to have a physical reminder like either of those to help me break the habit of complaining. What's working for you? I have been practicing the no complaining since this past weekend, after finishing the chapter. This may turn out to be an idea I investigate further, but in my short time of practicing no complaining, I have noticed it is much more empowering to turn a complaint around and acknowledge the good. As Kaplan states at the end of this chapter, "I felt liberated to understand that it wasn't events that made me happy but how I chose to frame them." I challenge you to join me on the no-complain train this week. Let me know how it goes for you! Sharing our experiences and ideas is what makes them richer for all of us. Join me on facebook or Instagram or right here and let me know how your gratitude Diary journey is coming along. In the meantime, roast some radishes! ♥
"If you are grateful for everything, then whatever you have is enough."-unknown
Thanksgiving is just a couple days away. Do you have your entire menu already planned? Well, if it isn't too late, may I recommend these potatoes? They are unbelievably good, ridiculously luxurious and all together worthy of any celebration. These are not boring, pedestrian mashed potatoes, these are pull out all the stops potatoes. They are inspired by the potatoes my good friend Suzi used to make with the added touch of a little bit of parsnip and with all the ingredients measured out for consistent results every time. They will be great on Thanksgiving, with your favorite roast chicken, meatloaf or as a pillow for a savory stew to be ladled on top of. I don't completely peel my potatoes, preferring the rustic look of the peel dotted throughout, but feel free to peel if that's your preference. These mashed potatoes are chunky and full of texture, which I love, but if you prefer a more smooth potato, use a ricer instead of a mixer to mash potatoes and then stir in other ingredients by hand once potatoes are riced to desired consistency.
Unbelievably Good Mashed Potatoes-serves about 10
2 parsnips, peeled, halved length-wise and cut into 2 inch sections cross-wise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 1/2 pounds red or gold skinned potatoes (Yukon Gold are my favorite, but gold-fleshed red-skinned potatoes are really great, too), peeled or not, cut into chunks
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cup half-n-half warmed, plus additional for thinning
1/4 cups sour cream
2 Tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 teaspoons each kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives
1. In a large pot place potato, garlic and parsnip chunks, a generous amount of salt and enough water just to cover. Bring a to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, until tender. Drain completely.
2. Place potato-parsnip-garlic mixture into a bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment.on low speed. Stir potatoes until they are broken apart (the idea isn't to mash them into a cohesive mass of potatoes here. They should appear fluffy in texture). Increase speed to medium for 1o seconds. Reduce speed to low.
3. Combine melted butter and half and half . With mixer on low speed, pour into potato mixture along with sour cream and cream cheese. mix on low speed for 30-60 seconds.
4. By hand with a wooden spoon or large spatula, mix in chives, salt and pepper. You should be able to taste the salt without thinking the potatoes are actually salty. Make sense? Adjust seasoning gradually to taste.
5. Thin potato mixture with additional half-n-half until desired thickness is reached.
6. Place potatoes into serving dish and sprinkle with additional chives, if desired.
Wishing you a very happy and tasty Thanksgiving. May you have plenty to be grateful for this Thanksgiving holiday and every day. ♥
"If you've ever grown zucchini, you know they all ripen the same day. You wait all of June and July for zucchini. August rolls around, and one day—bam! You have more zucchini than you know what to do with."- Gale Martin
In other words, zucchini, as we all know, is prolific! So what to do with all of that abundance? One can only eat so much zucchini bread, am I right? Well I have a versatile, delicious and much healthier alternative to zucchini bread to share with you. This recipe comes courteous of one of the best cooks I know, my friend Suzi. She was my right hand woman in my previous business venture in meal prep. She has an extraordinary palate and great intuition for cooking. Our joke was "... and it's always the same," but it wasn't because she measures nothing and goes by taste and what she has on hand. It was, however, always delicious.
The first time she gave me a guideline for making it, it didn't turn out like her's. Come to find out she neglected to share her secret ingredient with me. It's canned EL Pato Jalapeno Salsa. I buy it in my local market, but I live in an area with a pretty big Hispanic population. Once she fessed up, then I was able to duplicate pretty much what she did. I have attempted to standardize the recipes so you can get consistent results, but truth be told, it is still more of a blueprint to play around with. You may like more or less heat with the chiles, more or less tomato, no corn, more corn, etc. It is a very flexible and forgiving recipe. I make bunches of it and keep it in the freezer to eat all winter. The texture suffers a bit, but it is still very flavorful, and I enjoy it very much. You can eat it as a delicious side dish to grilled meats, as a vegetarian pasta topping or as a topping on a roasted spaghetti squash. Sometimes I use it as a soup base for a turkey taco soup I like to make. You can even stir in rinsed and drained black beans at the end to make it a vegetarian main course (think meatless Monday).. Any which way you serve it, it will be a wonderful way to take advantage of summer's bounty. Just do yourself a favor and avoid using those tough baseball bat sized summer squashes. Try to choose the smaller ones that are more tender with small seeds. It makes a difference. Recipe doubles beautifully.
Suzi's Stewed Zucchini- serves 6-ish
1 1/4 c. diced onions
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 pounds zucchini and /or summer squash (I like a mix), sliced lengthwise and then cut into 1/2" half-moons
1/2 cup diced roasted chiles, seeded (I use poblano, but you can use whatever you prefer, fresh roasted or canned)
28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
4 Tablespoons El Pato Jalapeno Salsa, or to taste*
kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
2/3 cup fresh or frozen, thawed, corn kernals
freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, optional
Freshly chopped Italian Parsley, optional
3 Tablespoons Olive oil
1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Stir in onion and garlic, season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook stirring often, until wilted and translucent.
2. Stir in squash, season again with a tiny pinch of slat and pepper and saute, stirring often for about 3-5 minutes.
3. Stir in tomatoes, chiles, broth and salsa*. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. When squash are still tender, but not deteriorated, after about 30 minutes, stir in corn. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer, until heated through. Taste for seasoning and adjust according to your taste.
5. Serve immediately, topped with grated cheese and sprinkled with fresh parsley.
* If you can't find El Pato Jalapeno Salsa in your area, no worries, you can increase the chiles a bit or add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce (go easy until you are certain of the intensity) and lastly, right after adding the corn, stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar to help elevate all the flavors.
“What I say is that, if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.” -A.A. Milne
I have been binge-watching Chef's Table on Netflix. It's fascinating to me from a food standpoint, but even more so from a cultural and human spirit standpoint. It has me completely mesmerized. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend it. Each story is beautiful and inspiring in its own right. The cinematography is stunning. Some of the cooking featured is so earthy and relatively basic, but so inspired as if a spiritual practice. I don't have the means to begin to communicate how it touches me to see these stories and the creativity in action. Though I think these words from Howard Thurman sum up what this series portrays so beautifully- "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
So feeling somewhat inspired (though inadequately skilled by comparison) and having some humble potatoes on hand, I decided to just wing an idea and see what happened. This rustic recipe is the result. It's super easy, really tasty and fun. These potatoes would be a great accompaniment to roasted and grilled meats any time of the year.
Salt Roasted Potaotes with Rosemary- serves 4-6
6-8 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and patted almost dry (leave some moisture)
4-6 sprigs fresh rosemary
2-3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon. approximately, mixed fresh herbs (I used thyme, rosemary, chives and Italian Parsley), minced
10" cast iron skillet
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Pour a 1/2" layer of kosher salt evenly over the bottom of the skillet.
3. Pierce the potatoes in 2 or 3 places with sharp knife then place the slightly damp potatoes in the skillet and roll in the salt.
4. Scatter the rosemary sprigs on top of the potatoes.
5. Place skillet in oven and roast potatoes for 45-60 minutes, until potatoes are pierced easily with a thin sharp knife. (the house will smell heavenly as the potatoes cook).
6. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven. Using a clean kitchen towel or oven mitts, remove potatoes from skillet and brush salt off. Again, using a towel to protect your hands, break the potatoes in half by hand and place in serving dish.
7. Drizzle the potatoes with melted butter; sprinkle with herbs. Serve immediately.
Watch them disappear! ♥
“But, you must remember, whatever you eat, make sure you have at least one bowl of salad with it.” -S.A. Tawks, The Spirit of the Imagination
I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but I am an accidental vegan. It has been less than a year that I undertook a (mostly) vegan lifestyle. I had been living with a chronic, rare and so called auto-immune and incurable skin condition called granuloma annulare for nearly three years. Western medicine was unable to help me. Functional medicine approaches yielded no help, including the Paleo diet which is supposed to be really helpful for so called auto-immune disease). The condition only worsened and became more disfiguring by the month, appearing on most areas of my body including my face. Then this past November a book was released by Hay House called Medical Medium by Anthony William. It changed my life. Embarking immediately on a diet change incorporating as many organic raw fruits and vegetables as possible, the condition stopped spreading. Then in January I did the very strict 28-day cleanse out-lined in the book and I my skin cleared up 100% and has never come back. I have felt so good eating that way (both physically and emotionally, not to mention my hot flashes disappeared) I primarily stick with the diet of only raw fruits and vegetables (I am not 100% perfect 100% of the time, and that is good enough for me). Now my family is not following a vegan eating plan, and that's ok with me, too, so I cook for everyone in my family (exhausting sometimes, I'll admit!) Luckily, there are some recipes the whole family can enjoy, and this is one of them! I have been making this for years and it seems to turn up on our dinner table mostly in the summer. It makes a lot, but it lasts several days stored air-tight in the refrigerator, so great to have on hand. It's a perfect accompaniment to typical summer BBQ fare of grilled chicken and ribs, so it would be perfect for summer entertaining as well. It's crunchy, cool and refreshing, And it's so pretty on the plate! Give it a try, won't you?
Cool and Crunchy Jicama Slaw- serves 8-10
special equipment needed - Mandoline with slicer and julienne blades
1 large Jicama (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and julienned
1 cup of julienned radishes
4 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups julienned carrots (about 3 medium, peeled)
1 cup red onion, halved, and sliced lengthwise
1 yellow or red bell pepper (or half and half), cored, halved cross-wise, seeded and sliced thinly
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or Italian parsley, if you are a cilantro hater)
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey (you can sub for another sweetener if you are strictly vegan)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno, seeded, optional
1/2 cup avocado oil
1. Place all of prepped veggie ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Prepare dressing. Combine all ingredients for dressing except the oil and whisk together. Gradually drizzle in the oil while whisking constantly.
3. Pour about half of the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl (I always like to start with less. You can always add more); toss. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste.
4. Serve on a bed of baby greens, garnished with a few slices of avocado for a main dish (top with some broccoli sprouts? Yes!), or as is for a great side dish.
Disclaimer: I am not advocating for a vegan lifestyle, just sharing my story. However I will highly recommend the book Medical Medium if you have a chronic mystery illness (RA, fibromyalgia, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, MS, Lyme and more...) and can not get help with your condition. You CAN heal!